We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, April 26. 2016
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I am certainly not against education, and I get that it is about well roundedness, or at least it used to be. I think any motivated person can self-educate in a lot of fields, without paying upwards of $30K/year. So isn’t it really about the credentials?
Meanwhile, I think the “Education Uber Alles” crowd gets the cart before the horse. We should be asking what are the jobs of the future going to look like and preparing our youth for them, not preparing them for the economy of 50 years ago.
Forget college, what a lot of young people need is a "training". Go to the nearest polytechnique, sign on for an apprenticeship, get something practical that can earn you a living. Sadly, a lot of this "well-rounded" propaganda disguises the fact that far too much "education" at college is brain-washing. Go to the tech, get a marketable skill, and then explore avenues for further education.
I would highly recommend America reintroduces the apprentice programs of the 40's, 50's and 60's. We still have them today here in Germany since most people realize not everyone is smart enough for university.
At the same time, we don't minimize the importance of mechanics or plumbers as you do in the US. Here, doctors and mechanics are both skilled individuals who provide an important service to society in general. It's not what you do, or your title, it's what you contribute. Somehow America made the trades a socially unacceptable, and instead pushed for college educations which have provided less capable, less viable workers than before.
Anyone who's spending 30K/year for a degree in art or journalism is a fool. They would be much better off learning a marketable skill that will prepare them for the real job market of the future, not the past.
When I was 18 I worked in a gas station. I was a wanna be mechanic working under the tutelage of a pretty good mechanic. One of the other workers was a 21 year old man who had never gone past the 3rd grade. He was actually pretty good as a mechanic and he loved the work. After his shift was done he would hang around and simply work for free. The boss had to reconcile the registers every morning and every morning there were mistakes. The gas sold didn't equal the pump reading and ditto for oil or repairs. We always blamed that on the guy who couldn't read or write. So the boss put him on his own register. Would you believe his was always the only one that balanced? He was so careful and would count the month twice so he just didn't make mistakes. The rest of us when we got busy would put the $10 in gas in our pocket and go to the next customer and when the rush was through we would go ring up the sales as best we remembered them.
I think the answer to our education problems is to provide trade schools for those who cannot finish high school and provide job track education for those who can finish high school but don't belong in college. It can't be a one size fitss all and let god sort them out.
I couldn't afford to attend Harvard architecture school, but I did go check it out wistfully. It was an extraordinary experience, mingling with those students. I believe I'd have absorbed ideas I was unlikely to run into elsewhere. There's something to be said for a superlative school that gathers amazing minds. In fact, though, I got a fine education in every other respect and have continued to self-teach.
I believe that there is a spectrum of academic ability (and it is multi-dimensional, I know a couple of brilliant engineers who have a very hard time speaking their own native language let alone writing it) but the problem is: "who decides?"
Which might bring us to the point of: "OK, equal access for everyone, but if you can't hack it you're out" I don't object to that in principal, but you've merely pushed the question back a level: "who decides what it means to 'hack it' ?" In my experience, this quickly becomes an excuse for poor teaching.
A poorly taught class or program, which merely hands out passing grades to those who have already mastered the subject is indistinguishable from one in which the material is well taught but extremely challenging. Having said which, I'd say that teaching is the only profession I can think of where high failure rates are treated as a sign of excellence. A plumber who began a job by addressing the home owner: "You see those three solder joints? Look at the one on the left! Look at the one on the right! Only one of the three is going to be working when I leave here, the others will leak!" would be laughed out of business.
And then there is the problem of credentialing. We have a very sick culture where work is concerned. It has been mentioned elsewhere that young people are reluctant to take on low level jobs, that they have an "entitlement mentality". Some probably do. "Gonewiththewind" above mentions working in a gas station, great. However, in our current work climate, the hiring and promotion process is so poor and so confused that to admit you had been an auto mechanic, a pizza driver, worked on a dairy farm, did landscaping... typecasts you as a manual laborer (never mind the real skills needed to do those jobs). No wonder even those young people without the entitlement mentality are leery of that path.
It goes much further. Hiring managers and HR people are looking for purple squirrels. A year as an auto mechanic doesn't fit the exact stereotype they're looking for -- for that matter if they're looking for a php programmer they don't want someone who has a couple of years as a tech writer on their resume, or if they're looking for a network engineer for their manufacturing business, they don't want one who has been working in the financial business. (This is often actually listed in job ads in wording such as: "A demonstrated history of consistent success in network engineering in a fortune 500 manufacturing environment.")
The whole system is broken, and it is broken at the social/cultural level. Ask the average person the old chestnut with a twist: "You say people without a college degree are as good as anybody else... but would you want your daughter to marry one?"
@ John - "You say people without a college degree are as good as anybody else... but would you want your daughter to marry one?"
The answer is "yes". I don't care what the profession is, as long as it's honest work and the man is of good character; garbage man, mechanic, hair dresser, cook, it doesn't matter. The level of eduction and profession does not make you who you are. Character and honestly does not come from higher education.
I've met plenty of highly educated people I wouldn't invite into my house, let alone introduce to my daughter. The media if full of dirt bag lawyers and business executives to prove that point.
Yes, I agree with you completely. Clearly you and I are not the average person...
My summer job during college was pounding spikes on the railroad. That experience didn't qualify me for anything in my profession-of-choice, geology, but it sure gave me the incentive to return to school in the Fall.